Retiring early from a specialised medical career, the Irishman Derek Ball can now devote himself full-time to composition. His repertoire includes solo instruments pieces, chamber music (like his Songs and Stories of Caílte's Time for Celtic harp and speaker, created by Anne-Marie O'Farrell and Séamus mac Gabhan) as well as larger works for symphonic orchestra and operas. Particularly present on the Irish contemporary music scene, his music has been programmed by the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra, the Dublin Symphony Orchestra and performed in the United-States. Derek Ball is a composer who does not hesitate to combine the Celtic harp with any kind of other instruments, voice and even computer.
The mill blades of the Netherlands turn again with a fresh wind. Regarding harp, the country has been the birthplace of many audacious projects: more than thirty years ago, the World Harp Congress was founded as an outgrowth of the Harpweken (Harp Week) on the initiative of the Dutch harpist Phia Berghout; created in 2007 by the Dutch harp players Sabine Meijers and Brenda Dor-Groot, the International Jazz Harp Foundation is based in the Netherlands. More recently, the Nederlandse Harpvereniging (Dutch Harp Association) and the Nederlandse Folk Harp Vereniging (Dutch Folk Harp Association) have launched a common event: Open Harp Dag. Centered on an international pedal harp competition held every two years, the Dutch Harp Festival also promotes other music played on different harps; workshops are scheduled all over the country with local teachers as well as musicians coming from abroad. (more…)